Antenna Software has announced enhancements to its AMPchroma mobile app development platform, which enterprises can utilize to build, run, and manage mobile apps and content. Antenna, which has been involved with enterprise mobility since 1998, has a number of versions of its Antenna Mobility Platform (AMP) out in the field, though none of them are fully compatible with one another. AMPchroma is the company's latest version of AMP and is also incompatible with previous AMP versions.
Antenna's platform and services are one of the costlier alternatives to building higher end enterprise mobile apps, especially if Antenna's professional services teams become involved, which is typically the case. But you get what you pay for, and being costlier requires a bit more clarification.
Larger scale mobile apps in today's BYOD enterprise world require careful front and back end design, development and deployment efforts - typically with a good deal of testing and redeployment involved. Once an app is ready for the field, there are numerous security, management and other run time issues (such as being able to access real time app usage analytics) that "should" come into play. This is where Antenna's platform excels.
That such critical issues "should" come into play doesn't however mean that they do - at least not up front. Many companies today, regardless of whether they are large or small, are now looking for lower cost, easy to deploy mobile app scenarios and options - and in today's mobile-driven world they are easy enough to find. There are plenty of vendors that will deliver cross-platform mobile app development capabilities at low upfront cost. Companies such as Sencha, PhoneGap, Appcelerator, Kendo UI and Icenium come to mind, but there are many more.
We also need to make note here of HTML5 - which Antenna supports, but which also leads to low cost options. Various third party HTML5 platforms, such as AppMobi, now provide API capabilities that can rival building mobile apps in native code. HTML5 apps, of course, are also inherently cross platform, which plays big in today's BYOD world.
Typically, IT departments will turn to their own in-house developers to use these tools. Regardless of the low cost alternatives used to build them, when it's time to get the apps out the door enterprises may then turn to companies such as MobileIron or AirWatch to provide mobile device management and basic policy-driven deployment to their workforces.
The critical issue here for Antenna is that getting through enterprise doors to mobile app development now more than ever requires that initial low cost access. It isn't something that Antenna can directly make happen and still remain in business. It's no surprise then that Antenna's strategy now takes aim at getting in the door through embracing a wider range of these development tools, and its just announced enhancements to AMPchroma look to do exactly this.
The New AMP/AMPchroma Client
The key update and enhancement that Antenna has announced is a new and open client that enables app developers to deploy applications built with standard languages and third-party development tools, but that also enables them to tap into the substantial integration, run time, security, and management capabilities of Antenna’s platform. In addition, Antenna’s own native cross-platform mobile development environment now supports Java, and is available to Antenna customers for free.
By opening up AMPchroma in this manner Antenna hopes that those enterprise IT development doors we noted above that are now controlled by less costly third party toolsets will be easier for Antenna to open. Or at least it hopes they will open enough that Antenna can communicate its story: that AMPchroma provides enterprises with a complete mobility platform and end to end solution that offers the highest levels of security, integration, and management to help them address complex requirements and still get to market quickly.
The latest iteration of AMPchroma now includes the following:
- Client container open to third party development tools: A new open client for running Web, hybrid, or mixed mode apps across many device platforms, using a patented multi-app container with an encrypted database.
- Support for native SDKs: Native APIs enable developers to build applications with native SDKs for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, or Windows Mobile.
- Free, open IDE for cross device development: Cross platform native IDE that now supports Java and allows for maximum code reuse for greater speed and flexibility. Available to AMPchroma customers at no charge.
- Highly scalable mobile server, available in cloud or on premise: High performance, patent-protected messaging platform that securely connects users to enterprise systems. The server also monitors and routes transactions, while optimizing user experience.
- Centralized management console: Brings mobile application management to the enterprise with remote user, app, and data management; lock and wipe capabilities; performance usage monitoring; and app analytics and reporting.
There is a good bit of competition in the mobile app platform space. SAP has acquired several of Antenna's old competitors - Syclo and Sybase/iAnywhere, and pretty much controls its own fate where large SAP installations are present. Even so, SAP already partners with Sencha and PhoneGap, among others, to provide alternative and low cost ways to open mobile enterprise doors. There are also direct pure play Antenna competitors. Appcelerator is one, Verivo Software is another - and both of these are lower cost players.
AMPchroma launched on February 21, 2012. The last time we had a detailed conversation with Antenna, about eight months ago, the company had some enterprises testing the platform but had no actual customers. We expect that has changed, and we'll provide an update as soon as we are able. Antenna does note that Amtrak is an AMPchroma customer, and we did know that Amtrak was working on an AMP v3 mobile app over a year ago. Antenna now says that Amtrak's eTicketing mobile app runs on AMPchroma, though it isn't clear to us from the link provided here that this is in fact the case.
That said, the newly provided enhancements to AMPchroma "should" hopefully open more of those enterprise mobile doors we noted above for Antenna.
Edited by Brooke Neuman